Colin Kaepernick shook up the NFL by first sitting, then kneeling during the national anthem as a boycott to bring awareness toward a "country that oppresses black people and people of color."
"Until you take a knee and beg forgiveness from the American people, you're not going to set a foot on this field again," said Steve King, noting what he would do if he were the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Kaepernick has spoken previously about a perception that he'd anti-American, per USA Today.
"The media painted this as I'm anti-American, anti-men-and-women of the military and that's not the case at all,'' Kaepernick said after playing the first half of the 49ers' 31-21 victory over the Chargers. "I realize that men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm's way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee so I have the utmost respect for them."
"I think what I did was taken out of context and spun a different way.''
Kaepernick's response after his decision to sit drew criticism was swift:
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," he said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."
The NFL replied to the controversy with a statement, saying ""Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the National Anthem."
Other high-profile athletes like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony have spoken out against what they perceive as racial and social injustice. Following the police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in July, which were captured on video resulting in nationwide protests and demonstrations, Anthony reached out to fellow athletes on social media, urging them to "step up and take charge" of the political environment. As has NBA star Dwayne Wade, whose cousin was fatally shot by a stray bullet Friday as she pushed a baby stroller near a school on Chicago's South Side.
Kaepernick originally sat during the anthem, but has kneeled in his two previous contests after speaking with military veteran and former NFL player Nate Boyer:
After Boyer, a former Army green beret, wrote an open letter to Kaepernick, the quarterback invited Boyer to attend a preseason game, where the two talked for 90 minutes prior to the contest, per ESPN. That's when a decision was made for Kaepernick to support the veterans on the San Diego Chargers "Salute to the Military" night.
"We were talking to him about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from pride in our country but keep the focus on what the issues really are," Kaepernick said. "As we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee because there are issues that still need to be addressed and there was also a way to show more respect for the men and women that fight for this country."
Kaepernick has not responded to King as of this writing.
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